City Of Perth And Lisa Scaffidi On Supporting The Perth Startup Community

Lord Mayor - Lisa Scafidi
Lord Mayor - Lisa Scafidi

After the excellent speech given by the Lord Mayor at Startup Weekend – Perth 2014, the Startup News team decided it was high time we got better acquainted with the City of Perth to familiarise ourselves with the part they play in our Startup community. The Right Honourable Lisa Scaffidi graciously agreed to allow Barry Newman-Sparks and myself into her offices located on St Georges Terrace where she spoke openly about her feelings for our budding entrepreneurial community and the value the City of Perth is adding.

The lord Mayor was not backwards in coming forwards about how impressed she was by the passion and dedication shown by the people who live and breathe Startup weekend, turning an idea into a marketable product in only 54 hours. “The creative talent, knowledge and interest that exists in Perth shows through at each event and gives a strong indication of the growth potential in the Perth start-up community.” Said Lisa Scaffidi.

When asked what initiated the involvement of the City of Perth in the Startup scene Lisa informed us that in 2007, the City through a study undertaken with the state government identified a need to support, attract and retain creative industry businesses within the City. It is through the Economic Development Strategy, that the City provides strong support and encouragement for knowledge based industry, innovators and small businesses. Lisa went on to add that the creative industry and Startup scene are part of this cohort and she is pleased to say we, as in the community and the City, have achieved so much in a short period. Furthermore, the economic, social, industrial and cultural contributions of these businesses are increasingly being recognised as essential elements of an advanced and thriving economy. They have a strong role in the image of a city, retaining talent and providing positive, substantial benefits to other industry sectors.

I wanted to get a grasp for how the City of Perth sees the future for our innovative Startup community and how we are perceived by our grant giving decision makers so I did what I do best and asked nicely. 🙂
Lisa’s response was that the continued growth and development of the start-up network, fostered by innovative events such as Startup Weekend, The Founder Institute, X Media Lab (cross media lab) and TEDx Perth (and of course their dedicated organisers) provide the opportunity for creating global industry connections and developing solid business skills. Since the widely recognised success of Spacecubed (now with two St Georges Terrace locations), there has been increased interest in the establishment of co-working and collaborative spaces. These hubs facilitate the start-up network growth, supporting entrepreneurs and small creative businesses through the provision of well-connected, central business locations.

I had a question that had been on my mind since I saw Lisa at the Startup weekend. I asked if she had a Startup idea, to which she replied with a smile that she will stick to her day job. Unfortunately I guess we won’t be seeing a pitch from her at Morning Startup any time soon.

I was curious about the advice that The Honourable Lord Mayor would offer to our community and she had a very clear message for us all… “You don’t need to move away to succeed!”

In the words of Lisa, Perth’s start-up community has been recognised for its innovation and the opportunities it offers in the creative industries profession. “They can get all the support they need here now; we can become Australia’s answer to Silicon Valley.”

This answer was a great relief to me as I have a mortgage and am in no position to run off to California any time soon.

Furthermore Lisa stated that Perth has a passionate, talented and supported creative industry network which continues to flourish through events such as Startup Weekend and The Founder Institute, and creative hubs such as Spacecubed. Lisa urged us to take the opportunities to get involved; attend the events, meet your fellow disruptive creators and become a part of the network.

So now that it’s clear how much love you have for the Perth Startup community, may I ask how the City of Perth will assist us in following in the footsteps of our big brother Silicone Valley?

Lisa’s response further celebrated our individuality and made me smile. She said “rather than attempting to emulate Silicon Valley, the City should embrace Silicon Valley as the largest global technology cluster and build connections that will result in benefits for local start-ups.” Through Lisa’s recent trip to G’day USA the City has generated links into Silicon Valley, particularly in the creative industries sector – “These relations mean that the City has opportunities to create the necessary important contacts.”.

Lisa further stated that “whether this is through the attraction of US funding to launch Perth start-ups, access to a range of successful initiatives, mentors and case studies to assist the start-up community.” “The City will also continue to support the Perth start-up community through event sponsorship, monitoring programs, developing an understanding of the uniqueness of Perth’s start-ups, and research into key industries.”

We would like to say a big thank you to Lisa and the team at the City of Perth for their time and the information provided to us. We greatly appreciate your recognition and support and look forward to continuing to blow your mind with our awesome ideas and innovations.

I have a poor quality recording of the speech Lisa made during the 2014 Perth Startup Weekend transcribed here if you want to read it.  And as usual, feel free to share this story, spread the word!